Aspen Valley Hospital begins expansion push |

Aspen Valley Hospital begins expansion push

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Heery design

ASPEN – Aspen Valley Hospital plans to begin construction of the largest, and most expensive, phase of a planned expansion in late summer.

The final plans for the second phase of the hospital’s facilities master plan have been submitted to the city of Aspen for review this spring. Anticipating approval, hospital CEO David Ressler is hoping for a summer start to the 22-month construction project, which will create a new wing of patient rooms plus office space for physicians, provide new space for cardiac rehabilitation and physical therapy, relocate the cafeteria and include construction of a parking garage and 22 employee units to the north of the existing hospital.

A new, east-side entrance will access the patient rooms, medical offices and relocated cafeteria, among other areas.

In all, three more phases are planned, with a total price tag in excess of $100 million, according to Ressler. A more refined cost estimate for Phase 2 has not yet been developed, he said.

“It’s going to be the largest of the next three phases,” he said. “From the financing perspective, that’s going to be the biggest nut for us to crack.”

Ressler and project architect Russ Sedmak presented the master plan to a sparse crowd Wednesday at the hospital. A handful of neighbors were on hand to view sketches of the facility, which will triple in size by the time all three remaining phases are constructed. Schematics of the building suggest it will be obscured by vegetation and topography from most vantage points surrounding the hospital’s 19-acre campus off Castle Creek Road. The existing one-story building will be expanded both outward and upward, to two stories. The hospital will go from about 70,000 square feet to about 210,000 square feet, plus a separate, 80,000 square foot parking garage, by the time the final phase is complete.

The first phase of the expansion, a new obstetrics unit, has already been constructed.

With the next phase, the 25-bed hospital will have the capability for 39 patient rooms – all of them private.

Many of the planned changes are to meet today’s industry standards and the changing demands on the hospital since construction of the present building was finished in 1977, Ressler said.

“We want to bring the facility up to the same standards that we already provide in care,” he said.

The master plan also designates space to expand Whitcomb Terrace, the hospital’s assisted-living facility, by 10 units, though that construction is not part of the expansion plan.

Construction of the employee housing was added to the next phase at the urging of the City Council, which gave the plans a conceptual OK last spring. The housing units are intended for seasonal employees, enabling AVH to free up some of its other housing for longer-term use.

The office space will allow all of the hospital’s physicians who currently have offices in Aspen to relocate to the AVH campus, Ressler said.

After phase 2 is finished, a third phase will follow, including new emergency room facilities, imaging, surgery and support services areas. Phase 4 will update the outpatient clinics, oncology and lab area, and include construction of a new main entrance, lobby and admitting area. The helipad will move to the roof.

The hospital will seek city approval of, and construct, each phase individually.

When the entire project is done, AVH should be well-equipped to serve the community for the next 20 to 30 years, Ressler said.

The plans essentially build out the campus to its maximum, given the desire to maintain various green spaces there, Sedmak said.

“It sort of puts a line in the sand that says, ‘this is it,'” he said.

Financing for the master plan will require voter-approved borrowing, plus cash the hospital has on hand, money it can borrow against future revenues and philanthropic giving, Ressler said.

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